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  • Crafting Beer with (512) Brewing Company
    Crafting Beer with (512) Brewing Company
    by John M. P. Knox

    "Definitely worth adding to your collection – it’s as good a visual record of the brewing process as I’ve ever seen." -Dave of

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Entries in Beer (37)


Thursday in Denver: GABF Day 1


Thursday morning started with another breakfast at Snooze. While we waited for our food, I gave Dan of Bison Brewing a copy of Crafting Beer with (512) Brewing Company, which he seemed to really dig.

Jennie, Dan, and I each ate our own meals, and also shared a flight of the supernaturally fluffy Snooze pancakes. Snooze makes amazing pancakes!

Alaskan Brewing Company

After breakfast, Jennie and I met with the kind folks of Alaskan Brewing Company. Like many in the craft beer industry, Charlie, Eric, and Ashley are very nice and very down to earth. Unlike most in the industry, they're based out of Juneau, Alaska.

Juneau life sounds a little crazy and a little wonderful at the same time. Juneau is isolated. There is no overnight delivery. There is no road linking them to the rest of the world.

Hearing this, I imagined a grizzled brewer wearing a seal-skin parka. He has a huge knife hanging from his rope belt, and steadily drags a sled full of malt and hops towards Juneau. He slowly marches over hills and through swamps, rationing out his growlers of beer, and guarding the brewing ingredients with his life.

At night, he builds a fire under the glinting green gaze of a hungry wolf pack, and sleeps in a sack of barley. When the brewer finally arrives at Alaskan Brewing Company, the gates creak open, the staff cheers, a band plays, and everyone complements him on his nice new wolf-skin boots.

None of that is true. All of the grain used for brewing is loaded onto barges and shipped to Juneau by water. Everything in Juneau is made there, or floated, or flown in, which isn't quite as amazing as a wilderness brewer trek, but still pretty cool. Alaskan has to work a bit harder to keep the world supplied with their beer.

I suspect the isolation is one reason they use some unusual local ingredients, like the spruce tips used in one beer. Shipping is one unique challenge for their amazing location.

I shot a short video interview of the Alaskan folks, which I should have up in the future.

Great Divide Party

Jennie and I then walked to meet our (512) Brewing Company friends at Great Divide Brewing Co. Every year Great Divide generously hosts a pre-GABF party for brewers featuring their delicious beer and some of the food made with it.

I drank a glass of Rumble and a glass of Yeti. Good stuff! I never turn down a pint of Yeti!

21st Amendment Brewery

On our way towards the conference hall, we all made a quick stop at a condo rented by 21st Amendment Brewery. The 21st Amendment folks were celebrating some new beers, in particular their nicely balanced "Back in Black" Black IPA in cans. Black IPA is trending this year - big time - so this should be popular. I interviewed their brewer about how they make that beer, which will be appearing in the future.

The Beer Festival

The final stop of the day was the actual  Great American Beer Festival. The GABF is a huge conference hall stuffed wall-to-wall with beer and beer swag. Table after table lines up in long rows, containing 455 breweries and 2,200 different beers. Not to mention some interesting vendors, like the X-Communicated Mormon Drinking Team.

When each GABF session starts, the hall is filled with the dull roar of thousands of the most passionate beer fans talking and drinking. The atmosphere is amazing.

I had a few goals for Thursday's GABF session. First, I wanted to attend a few of the beer and food pairing events at the Beer & Food Pavilion. Second, I wanted to meet Dave of 33 Beers and buy a set of his beer journals. Third I wanted to try a few beers on my list. Finally, I wanted to take things slow so I could survive the next 3 GABF sessions on Friday and Saturday.

I'm proud to say that I achieved all four goals. The first brewery stop was New Glarus, one of the breweries suggested earlier by Alaskan Brewing. Those in the know understand that New Glarus is a brewery for brewers. If you pick 12 random brewers off the GABF floor and ask for a beer recommendation, you'll be hearing "New Glarus" a few times at least. 

Even though I entered the conference hall before the general public did, there was already a line for New Glarus. Who was in the line? Those same brewers you asked for a recommendation. By the time the first pour was allowed, the New Glarus line stretched out of visual range. Delicious and popular stuff!

I should have some video footage of the first day up in the future, so keep a look out on this blog, on twitter, or by following the RSS feed.



Dinner with Beer Nerds

I was lucky enough to eat dinner with some of the most intense beer heads and foodies around. BeachBumChris, Charmaine of SpeakEasyKitch, and Jennie of MisoHungry. If you're interested in what we beer nerds talk about, cooking with beer, or what kind of beer we drank before the Great American Beer Festival, this is the video for you.


Texas Winners: GABF 2010

Living in Texas, it's nice to see that we won 6 medals for four different breweries. Or maybe 5 medals for three breweries, depending on how you count. Trumer appears to be a Austrian beer brewed in Berkeley, owned by a San Antonio-based company. I'll leave that tricky distinction up to you.

I look forward to next year's GABF, when Texas should have even more breweries online and ready to compete. In the mean time, I need to get a brewery tour of Real Ale, and maybe another tour of Saint Arnold.

Keep up the delicious work, all of you!





Wednesday in Denver: Trailer Food, the Art of Beer, and Geometric Food

Wednesday Morning, Jennie and I met Dan of Bison Brewing at the Farmer's Market at Tiri's Garden for lunch. Although the place is called a Farmer's Market, most of the vendors serve prepared food out of trucks and lunch carts. I'm reminded of Austin!

The highlight of the market was the Inventing Room, which sells edible science fair projects. Who could resist that? Not us. We ordered a Chocolate Mint Space Foam. When a canister of liquid nitrogen appeared, Jennie shouted "Hold on, let me get my camera!" as we struggled to get our cameras ready like a disorganized firing squad.

The chef shot the space foam into a container of liquid nitrogen from a whipped cream dispenser. After a few seconds, the chef reached in with his bare hands and popped a ball of frozen space foam into his mouth. Showmanship!

For added drama he demonstrated how to blow puffs of "smoke" off of the space foam. The foam tasted minty delicious, with an unusual crunchy/smooth texture. Space foam is an insane crowd pleaser. I'll have some video footage to show off later.

The Farmer's Market also has an attached community garden, which lets you pick your own vegetables in exchange for a donation to Concerts for Kids. I love this idea! Volunteers and students work the garden, which is just gorgeous. Denver should be proud. Look for a video soon.

The food vendors offer a bogglingly diverse selection of food. Liquid Nitrogen space foam. Vegetarian Vietnamese sandwiches. Venezuelan street food. Cupcakes. Anything your heart desires.

After a blogging break, Jennie and I returned to the thumping heart of GABF: Falling Rock Tap Room. Falling rock was already full of beer nerds and brewers when we arrived at six pm. Many of them were here to celebrate Taylor "The Art of Beer's" birthday in the basement.

How does The Art of Beer celebrate her birthday? With a huge beer tasting, curated by Dr. Bill! Bottle after bottle of craft bombers appeared, with a focus on belgian-style beer.

Our basement room was absolutely packed, and whenever the barman was spotted, drink orders were shouted across the room. Our group must have been boisterous, because the barman threatened to kill anyone who tried to drive tonight. We all survived.

After the birthday festivities reverted to GABF festivities, Jennie and I strolled down to Euclid Hall. This cool restaurant specializes in beer and food pairings, or so it seemed to us. If they're a wine and cheese joint, we didn't notice.

I really enjoyed the meal, although there were a few rough edges here and there. For instance, their grilled hangar steak poutine had to my mind a strange ratio of steak, cheese, and fries. There was more cheese than fries to mop it up with. They've only been open for about six weeks, so they're still tuning things. I expect they'll have the menu dialed in quite soon if they're active in collecting and responding to feedback.

I got a kick out of Euclid's mathematical beer list organization. The list begins with arithmetic, and works its way upward in beer complexity through algebra, calculus, and topping out at quantum mathematics. To give you an idea, Dogfish Head's Palo Santo lands in quantum mathematics. You can find the list on their website. This is a fun way to challenge folks to try new beers. I look forward to visiting Euclid at next year's GABF!


Tuesday's Denver Adventure

My Tuesday morning started at 3 AM. Jennie and I finished packing and drove to the airport to make our 6 AM flight to Denver. The Southwest flight was thankfully uneventful, and arrived at our Bed and Breakfast just in time to for bagels and espresso.

We ate brunch at Snooze, home of the best pancakes I have ever put in my mouth. I devoured a Bella Benny, which featured an addictive balsamic glaze sauce. Oh my!

After snooze, we wandered past Great Divide Brewery. The Great Dividers were in the process of installing what appeared to be new fermenters. Expanding capacity. Right on!

Beer time started a little earlier than expected when we learned our pal Dan of Bison Brew had arrived in town and was eating lunch at Falling Rock. We made a hard starboard tack towards the tap room.

Dan and Jennie and I had a interesting talk about the business sustainability of breweries. The recent trend of craft brewery acquisitions really makes me wonder about how you set up a business so that the founders can cash out when they want to retire, but the brewery can still continue on as an independent and quality-oriented business. Wouldn't it be nice if the founder could retire and hand the reins over to a like-minded brewer rather than an accountant or MBA?

For Dinner, Jennie and I hitched a ride to the home of @SpeakeasyKitch (also known as Charmaine). On the way, we picked up the usual necessities: ice cream, beer, cheese, and shrimp. @BeachBumChris arrived a little later and cooked Great Divide Titan IPA shrimp etouffee. I think we tasted eight or nine different beers, three cheeses, lots of fresh veggies out of Charmaine's garden, and that was just while dinner was cooking. What a feast!

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